Perhaps one of the most important skills we need in life is resilience: the capacity not to give up when facing adversity or the traditional definition of getting back to its normal state after stress. In this fast changing world where the speed of change has increased so much and the degree of uncertainty has skyrocketed, learning certain skills early on in life can be an incredible advantage to thrive in life and better adapt to the future.
But how can we be more resilient towards life’s challenges… How can we build that resilience in our children from early on so that they have this skill for life..
The analogy I like to use here is that we are born resilient: think about a baby learning to walk. How many times do babies fall before they actually learn how to walk.. Yet I don’t know any baby who simply gave up the task and decided not to walk because it was not for them.
But as we get older we tend to start losing that and messages, models and rules start to get in our way. We listen that certain things are too hard, we are praised when we win. So we start to interpret this information and make our own judgements about it: if this is too hard I might find something easier, if I might lose I better not try. And our resilience goes in a down road.
But the good news is that resilience is like a muscle: the more you practice, the more you will master it and see the results in your own life. We can always learn new skills and train ourselves. The more we do that with our children the better for them as it will be laying the foundation in life.
Check out 5 ways you can help build resilience in your children:
- Lead by example: children are constantly paying attention and modeling their parents who are their role model. If they see you doing or saying something, chances are that they will be doing the same. So this is also valid for resilience: if they listen that something is very hard and see you giving up, they will tend to do the same with situations in their own life. But in the other hand, if they see you constantly doing something without giving up, if they listen that something might be hard but we can still work a bit more to get there, this is the messaging they will be following.
- Set resilience games: you can give your child a game that they might find hard at build from there. You can make it a bit easier at first to make it tangible, then once they start mastering it you can set new challenges and make it constantly harder to make them keep going. For example you can start with a not so hard puzzle, once they make it you can introduce another one a bit harder and so on. You can also set a reward if you think they are not very motivated in the task at first to give an initial motivation to do it and do it constantly so they get the messaging over time.
- Positive reinforcement: children really value their main caregivers opinion and words towards them. Use positive reinforcement whenever they are resilient and put continuous effort into something to show them your support and appreciation. By doing so you will be reinforcing the importance of resilience and they will be more likely to it again or make it a habit in the long run.
- Praise their effort: if a child knows that their effort is being recognised by others they will be more likely to put more effort next time and that will help build a positive association in their brain towards effort. In the long run this cycle helps them put more effort into things and improve their results, improving their resilience as a result.
- It is okay to make mistakes: mistakes are part of life and knowing how to deal in a good way with them makes a big difference. Usually mistakes are associated as something negative and that is one of the reasons some people might not try new things: the fear of failure prevents them from doing so. But in fact mistakes take you closer to your goal if you learn from them and keep trying. If your children gets this outlook early on they will overcome situations more easily and will be prone to keep going despite the momentaneous outcomes.